Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 12: July 4th

Happy July 4th!
Today we handed the classroom back over to the teachers and observed.  I was proud of Teacher Mwangala for incorporating a few things I had showed her, and I think she was really trying, especially with reading and phonics.  Teacher Dennis also incorporated some rhyming and small things into the phonics lesson today.  

We released the kids a little early so we could show the teachers a model lesson using the new textbooks they will be receiving (the ones we organized from the containers).  It was a 1st grade textbooks, and we modeled it in a Grade 7 classroom.  I thought it would be very easy for them, but it wasn't.  I pre-taught some of the vocabulary before we read the story together.  I had the kids pronounce it and then use it in a sentence.  One of the kids raised his hand and said the word correctly:  "rolled".  Then he said, "My friend was very rolled to me."  He, of course, meant rude.  I was shocked and so glad it happened so that the teachers could see how even though they can "read" the words, they may not be gaining meaning from the story if they do not know the vocabulary.  

We also had the students predict what they thought the story would be and answer some critical thinking questions at the end.  This was very new to them.  They are used to rote answers with very little creative thinking.  They want to know if the answer is "right".  

After the morning session, we had a meeting with the teachers during lunch.  We shared the reading assessments we had done, textook/teacher's guides ideas, and how we would change the schedule to incorporate a more solid block of reading and math time.  I think it was very overwhelming to the teachers.  There were some awkward silences as they processed what we were saying, but we tried to reassure them that this was to help them, not add anything extra.  They are a product of how they grew up and were taught, so the thought of having to be creative with lessons or put more thought into planning scares them.  They like it all laid out and do not know how to pull resources together to supplement instruction.  

I was shocked to see how little they actually use real books.  They have a library, but I never saw a kid with a book.  The teachers never read picture books to them.  They NEED those literature experiences to build vocabulary and schema.  Hopefully with our guidance and new resources, they will start to pull in more literature.  

It was eye-opening to see that what is common sense to us is shocking and big adjustments for them.  These are also the cream of the crop teachers.  I cannot imagine teachers in the community schools! 

After school, we went to the hotel for a 4th of July dinner and celebration.  It was so fun!  I was not expecting anything so big.  The kids had made posters and decorations, Cynthia had a big American flag hanging up, and she brought flag plates and napkins with her from the States.  
They had spent all afternoon grilling, and they had ribs, steak, chicken, and burgers.  We also had potato salad, corn, and green beans.  Cupcakes with American flags in there were the dessert.  We sang the Star Spangled Banner before we ate, and even the Zambians stood up and clapped when we finished.  
Warren played the guitar after dinner, and we sang patriotic songs and some worship songs.  We all gathered around the swimming pool (that had no water).  The kids show off some smaller fireworks.  We were expecting a few sparklers, but in the pool, the older boys had set up some larger ones.  I have never seen big ones so close!  The Zambians came out to see what was going on.  It was so loud and bright.  I think I screamed every time one went off.  Sadly, my camera was full so I did not get any video of the larger ones.  It was so much fun, though!!
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